Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear fellow wargamers.
This is my review of "full" Impetus (as opposed to the introdutory Impetus), which hopefully helps you finding out whether this game is for you or not. This review is heavily based on my review of Basic Impetus.
PLAYTIME: about 1 - 1 1/2 hour for 300 army points. 1 1/2 to 2 hours 400 pts. i never tried 50 pts. but i guess it would take about 2 hours or a bit more.
SPACE NEEDED: suggested playing area is 90x120 cm for 15mm 300 pts and 120 x 240 for bigger games. 25mm needs more space. 300 pt games also work on 60x120 cm tables, although this tends to get a bit crowded.
MINIATURES NEEDED: 300 pts is about 10 to 20 units. 400 is about 12 to 25 and 500 is something in between 15 and 30 units. one unit is one base and how many figures you base on that is up to you. normally something in between 6 and 15 figures per base looks very good. but it is also possible to play with much less. it is also possible to just use one standard DBx base per unit, although this does not look very good.
THE RULEBOOK: the rulebook is a beautifully designed, full colour 50 page spiral bound book printed on sturdy, card-board like paper. a playsheet is included, which is very handy for reference and makes reference to the rulebook during play almost unnecessary after a few games. the rules are written in plain english, not some kind of code, and easy to understand and most of them are quite intuitive.
1) What it is
Impetus is a miniature tabletop wargame. So you use miniatures, mounted on bases and terrain as seen in railroad modelling to represent troops and the battlefield.
bases are supposed to be 80mm frontage, but 40mm (which is what most players base their figures to) works great too. any other basing will work too, as long as both armies use the same system. armies based for DBA/DBM style games and for Warhammer Ancients will work without problems.
There is a "lighter" version of the rules, called "Basic Impetus", which is free to download. (link to the download page:
http://www.dadiepiombo.com/basic2.html). it is suggested you have a look at Basic Impetus if you want to know about the impetus engine en detail.
Impetus uses a point system.
2) How it Plays
a) Stats and Basics
the core of the game are two stats. one is the VBU of a unit, which describes how tough the unit is in general. it decides how well the unit fights and how well it sustains losses. the other important stat is the "Impetus" value of the unit, which is a bonus the unit gets when charging into melee, but only if the unit is still fresh (has taken no losses so far). other stats are Movement (how far a unit can move, from 5 for heavy infantry to 12 for light horse) and the Value of the unit, which describes how bad its loss is for the armys morale.
most critical is the class of a unit. units are classed as heavy infantry, light infantry, skirmishers, medium horse, heavy horsem light horse, light chariots, heavy chariots, scythed chariots and elephants. the class of a unit is important for how the unit moves.
there also is a Discipline class of A, B or C which describes how effectively drilled the unit is. this is very important, as high discipline units are easier to move around quickly. they are also easier to rally and will therefore usually live longer. they are also easy to put into Opportunity mode and have them wait for a chance to ambush an uncautious enemy.
a unit can take permanent losses, which permanently damage its fighting ability. they can also be disordered, which mostly happens through losing a rather unbloody melee or moving obliquely. disorder can be removed by rallying.
armies also have a Command Structure rating, desribing the quality of its logistics and messengers as well as that of its CNO's. in game erms it takes the form of a malus on discipline tests of troops which are out of the armys command range.
the army can be split up into two or more cxommands, each under one general, whose character influences the copmmands performance. cowardly generals may even run away with their command!
units move either individually or in groups. the later gives the advantage of charging as a group and thereby getting a numerical advantage over the enemy.
movement rules are rather restrictive. you can either move straight forward or wheel. you can also do both but that disorders the unit.
once you enter another units Zone of Control (ZOC, the area the unit threatens) you can only move straight forwards or retire. it is thereby not possible to just maneuver nearby an enemy unit. here also a rules on certain trop types that can move through own troops and vice versa. terrain also influences movement and you also get disadvantaged if trying to fight light troops with heavy troops in bad terrain. (but terrain is less restrictive than in DBA for example.)
light horse and skirmishers are an exception to most of the above and move around rather freely. they are also hard to hit by ranged fire and therefore really useful for scrrening your army
some trops are Impetuopus and may easily go out of control if enemy troops are within 30 cm (or inches, depending on the scale you play in) and then will ty to charge them. they will even run down skirmishers in front of them, which is big fun especially in medieval games where impetuous knights will charge through their own lines to get into melee.
quite unique in ancient wargaming is the Opportunity rule, which allows you to have units wait and react to the enemys moves. you can then opportunity-charge or opportunity-fire.
there are two types of combat, being melee and ranged combat. procedures for both are similiar. you roll a number of dice equal to your VBU and modificated by modifiers. those modifiers are quite heavy for shooting and less so for melee. chaging and getting the impetus bonus is a huge advantage, so aggressive style of play is rewarded. just sitting at the tableedge waiting to be attacked is not a good idea for the same reason and also because the distances you have to flee when loosing a melee will then quickly push you off the table and thereby eliminate you. so, in combat you roll a number of dice and every "6" or double "5" is a hit. the enemy must then make a cohesion test (and you too, if you took damage). this test basically is a test against the VBU of the unit minus any losses it suffered so far and minus the hits just inflicted. you then take a number of losses according to the outcome of the test. this can get very deadly quite quickly.
the looser must retreat after a lost melee and the attacker has the option to follow up. retreat and pursuit is diced for and should new contact occur the new melee is foughht immediately. this leads to rapid assaults that may really cut gaps into enemy lines in one turn only.
units never retreat from shooting.
light troops have the option of fleeing a charging enemy or evading if under fire.
d) Other Gameplay
each bound the beginning player is diced for, with each player declaring which command they want to activate and then having their dice modified by that commands general.
ambushes are possible too, in the form of an optional rule. units can then hide in terrain features on the battlefield and ambush the enemy from there.
barbarian warbands, some knights and pike formations can form big units, thereby greatly increasing their punch and staying power, but at the same time sacrificing mobility and numbers. warbands are mighty and have good chances to overcome regular heavy infantry (like legionaries etc.).
3) The Chrome
this is were this game shines. it is a fast-play game but has a lot of chrome to make armies reallly different and to make armies come to life. there are rules for the pilum throwing of legionaries and for vikings and saxons forming shield walls, making them immune to cavalry charges. also long spears and pikes give advantages against cavalry attacks. the different types of distance weapons are all modelled and it makes a difference whether you shoot a shortbow or a crossbow. some units can shoot indirectly (that is, from second rank).
there are a few sample army list included in the rule book, more detailed lists are available in the form of suplements, of ewhich the first - covering the Hundred Years War, Old Egypt and the Italian Wars - has already been published. many other lists are available from the publishers website for download. the point system has also been made public, so that designing any given force is no problem.
i think Impetus is a colorful, fast-paced tabletop wargame, that should appeal especially to people who like to throw lots of dices and who like lots of action in their games. the game ranks in between DBA/DBM style games and Warhammer Ancient style games. while certainly less sterile than the former it is much more tactically deep than the later and much less clumsy than both.
highly recommended as an introduction to wargaming and to convert Warhammer Fantasy players.
Basic Impetus and Impetus are my favourite wargames at since 5 months ago. i believe they will stay my favourite rules for some time.
give it a try. please.
Very good review. I have been fascinated with this system ever since it came out and I would add a couple of points.
1. The rules are, as indicated in the review, very user-friendly. Lots of nice pics, diagrams and the like. Well, actually the pics are gorgeous if truth be told. And the text, at least in the English edition, is easy to understand.
2. Base and battlefield sizes are very flexible. 80mm frontages are recommended for 15 mm figures, but you can use anything from 120mm to 40mm for different size figs. Since distance measurements are all in terms of MU, conversion is very easy.
3. What makes these rules stand out, IMHO, though is how they achieve realistic results with an absolute minimum of rule-mongering. For example, Roman legionaries used the pila as a throwing weapon to disrupt the charge of their enemies. Impetus models this with one simple rule -- Roman legionaries throw their pila just before the melee phase. 1d6 if they are charging, 3d6 if they are charged. These are resolved as regular shooting combat (note no special rule). Under the shooting rules, the target suffers one DAMAGE for every 6 rolled or for every two 5s that are rolled and every DAMAGE results in DISORDER plus possible permanent losses. How slick is that? The francisca is handled pretty much the same way. As another example, arquebusier interaction with pike blocks in the 1500s have a similarly simple rule. This is just plain elegant IMHO and should be a model for others.
4. Skirmishers actually mean something in these rules. As opposed to many rules sets in many eras, skirmishers here are not just very fast cannon fodder. They can evade or fire, sometimes both, and proper use of skirmishers can actually make a difference on a battlefield.
5. In terms of "size" -- numbers of figs and table -- these rules lie between DBA with its mandated 12 elements and the rather massive FofG armies. Of course, size is not everything, but figs do translate into cost and that is not a trivial consideration these days.
My one concern is that with all the promotional oomph behind FOG and the long history behind the DBA series, these rules are not going to get as much exposure as they should.
Good Review. I haven't played the game yet, but have just finished reading though the rules (more than I can say for Warhammer Ancients Battles. Not to knock WAB, but the rules are more dense.
Impetus rules were a pleasure to read *and* they had numbered paragraphs. A big plus for me.
I look forward to my first game...
I have played miniatures since WRG 4th Edition. I was frankly disappointed with Impetus and let down by the movement rules. Personally, I like a miniature game that reflects real life and the movements or lack there of historical units can do. The Roman Army for one was very adept at wheeling, facing, about facing, changing lines,etc. These rules make a mockery of Roman flexibility.
I enjoy tactical games very much and a strong part of that is the movement. Trying to out guess your opponent, grab that flank and roll up his line. It's time the hobby got serious and wrote some new games that are as good as we played 20 years ago.
that is strange. their superior Discipline and Command Structure makes romans much more likely to move swift and precise than their foes.
romans are very flexible in Impetus.
try romans and then try medieval french or any army with low Discipline, poor Command Structure and Impetuous troops. Impetus is really good at portraying different degrees of mobility and flexibility.
i really do not know what you are complaining about.
René van den Assem
I am very curious what rule are your current favorite (which you play regularly)
Hope to hear from you
Personally, I like a miniature game that reflects real life and the movements or lack there of historical units can do.
This may be an old post - but the guy who wrote this is just making a joke right. You have got to be kidding.